Assistance, Assistants and Assistive Media. Barriers and Interfaces of Digital Cultures (01-03 July 2021)

Organized by the project "Assistive Media" at Leuphana University Lüneburg.

Please register via mail: 

As digital devices and automated systems are becoming more and more ubiquitous, human-machine interactions are mediated through a growing number and variety of interfaces.

This constellation of machines ‘helping‘ humans is sometimes referred to as an act of (technological) assistance. While the term "assistive technology" is usually reserved for (high and low tech) devices devised for people with sensory, cognitive or motor disabilities, the terminology of technological engineering seems to have a broader meaning: here an "assistive system" (Assistenzsystem) is any computer based device or programme that supports any user in successfully completing a specific task. Consequently, from an engineering point of view, the need for assistance is relational as well as temporary, since it only emerges from a specific (media) environment.

This view resonates with statements from scholars within disability studies who point out that most technology – especially the "smart" kind – is assistive in principle, so it seems unnecessary to qualify certain devices as assistive but others not (see for example Katherine Ott).

Taking this perspective as a point of departure, this conference focuses on the investigation of software, hardware, interfaces and devices as mediators of barriers. It aims at an understanding of technological assistants in general and assistive technologies in particular as ‘assistive media‘ – media that intervene in an already existing technological environment and add an additional level of mediation to the human-machine interaction.



02:00-03:00pm Welcome Note & Introductory remarks03:30-05:30pm Panel 1 Assistance and Control [Chair: Karin Harrasser]

Martin Siegler: Assisted Attention. Exploring the Dead Man‘s Switch

Beate Ochsner & Markus Spöhrer: "When everybody plays, we all win": The Microsoft Adaptive Controller as a socio-technical ‘Node‘ for ‚Normalization‘

07:00-08:00pm Keynote by Mara Mills


02:00-04:00pm Panel 2 Assisting environments [Chair: Anna–Lena Wiechern]

Athanasios Karafillidis: Creating Environments for Support. Interfacing Exoskeletons with Physical Bodies in Technology Development

Felix Hüttemann & Monique Miggelbring: Living-environments as assistive environments? 05:00-07:00pm

Panel 3 Assisted standardization [Chair: Wolfgang Hagen]

Dylan Mulvin: Living Proxies: The Standardized Patient Program

Philipp Hauss: The machine that meditates for you


02:00-04:00pm Panel 4 Assistance in visualization & planning [Chair: Jan Müggenburg]

Paula Muhr: Interactive Anatomical Brain Visualisations as Assistive Interfaces in fMRI

Yana Boeva & Ann-Kathrin Wortmeier: Un/Intended Notions of Assistance in Architecture and Construction: Amplifying Power Disparities

05:00-07:00pm Panel 5 Assisted conversation [Chair: Philipp Sander]

Robert Stock: Assisted Writing and Writing Assistants

Renée Ridgway: What is the Art in Artificial Intelligence


07:00-07:30pm Closing discussion

Leave a reply
You are not allowed to leave a reply!

Back to top